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New Raiders coach Gruden excited to finally meet reclusive RB Lynch

The Associated Press

The Oakland Raiders’ new head coach Jon Gruden speaks at a press conference Tuesday in Alameda, Calif.

The Associated Press ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) — Jon Gruden hopes he’ll finally get the chance to meet Marshawn Lynch now that he’s coach of the Oakland Raiders.

After having numerous requests turned down by the media-adverse Beast Mode during his tenure as an ESPN announcer, Gruden now is officially Lynch’s coach after being introduced Tuesday for his second stint with the Raiders.

“You know, I’ve never met Marshawn Lynch. Even as a broadcaster, I asked for Marshawn Lynch in production meetings and I never got to meet him,” Gruden said.

“So I’m anxious to sit down with Marshawn and meet him. We’ll talk about his future and the Raiders. I can’t wait. He came back to the Raiders for similar, I think, reasons that I did. I think he loves Oakland. I think he loves the Raiders and guys like him interest me, so I’m looking forward to talking to him.”

Lynch came out of retirement this past season to join the Raiders. He said he made the move to give something back to his hometown of Oakland before the team moves to Las Vegas in 2020.

Lynch’s status is one of the questions facing the Raiders this offseason. He got off to a slow start in his return, rushing for just 266 yards in the first half of the season and getting suspended one game for shoving an official after coming off the bench during a scuffle against Kansas City.

He was a completely different player after that, rushing for 524 yards and five TDs in his final eight games. His average of 78.1 yards rushing per game in that span was tied for third best in the league.

Lynch has a contract for next season worth about $6 million, including a $1 million roster bonus due in March after the start of the new league year. McKenzie said any decision on Lynch’s status would come after a meeting with the new coaching staff.

Gruden is officially back in Oakland, where he started his head coaching career 20 years ago and nearly 16 years after he was traded to Tampa Bay following a crushing loss in the “Tuck Rule” game in New England.

Gruden was introduced Tuesday in front of a large crowd that included nearly 50 former Raiders and nine Pro Football Hall of Famers as the coach that owner Mark Davis believes can carry Derek Carr and the Raiders back to the top.

The Raiders nearly got there in Gruden’s first stint from 1998-2001, but the team lost to Baltimore in the 2000 AFC title game and followed that with the memorable loss in the snow against the Patriots that still haunts the franchise.

Gruden was then traded to Tampa Bay the following month for four draft picks and $8 million. He beat Oakland in the Super Bowl the next season but always identified with the Raiders.

“For my career to end that night in New England, it still ticks me off,” Gruden said. “I’m so thrilled to be back here. I hope people understand the emotion inside. I feel there’s unfinished business.”

Panthers dump offensive boss

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Panthers coach Ron Rivera fired longtime offensive coordinator Mike Shula on Tuesday, saying the team’s offense needs a “different perspective.”

Along with Shula, the Panthers also cut ties with quarterbacks coach Ken Dorsey two days after a playoff loss to the New Orleans Saints.

Shula spent seven seasons with Carolina, working as the quarterbacks coach before being promoted to offensive coordinator in 2013.

Carolina was 11-5 this season and finished 19th in total offense, but again struggled moving the ball through the air and was 28th in passing. The Panthers were 12th in scoring.Speech

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